New Year Traditions

Do you have any New Year customs where you’re from? Japanese customs heavily influence the mixed culture of Hawaii. We have adapted many of the New Years customs here such as Kadomatsu and Kagami Mochi. Pictured above is a kadomatsu. It is a traditional Japanese decoration with 3 cut pieces of bamboo and pine. Some are more elaborately decorated with different flowers as well. Bamboo symbolizes longevity and endurance and the pine represents growth, prosperity and strength. Pairs of these decorations are placed in the entrances of homes and even office buildings to welcome ancestral spirits for a bountiful year.

Be aware of some special rules regarding the setup of your kadomatsu. Try not to set it up on December 29 and 31. The 29th is an unlucky day (translates to double pain) and the 31st is called Ichiya Kazari (which means one night decoration and is considered disrespectful as it seems as if you put it up last minute). Keep your kadomatsu out until January 7 as it is considered impolite to take it down earlier than that. After January 15, the kadomatsu should be burned to release the ancestral spirits.

Another popular tradition is Kagami Mochi which is a traditional Japanese rice cake. It almost looks like a snowman with 2 layers of rice cake and usually topped with a small mandarin. Kagami means mirror and the round shape of the rice cakes resemble the sun goddess Amaterasu. According to the Japanese legends, Amaterasu retreated from the world and hid in a cave, and in doing so the earth went dark. She was drawn out with a mirror which restored the light to the world. The kagami mochi celebrates long life, bonds of family and renewal.

Similar to the Kadomatsu, it is unlucky to set up Kagami Mochi on December 29 and 31st for the same reasons. Kagami mochi must not be eaten right away. It is specifically consumed on January 11th during the traditional ritual of Kagami Biraki. You must not cut into the mochi with a knife (as it would symbolize severing family ties) – either use your hands or a hammer to break it. The mochi pieces are then eaten or put into traditional new year mochi soups such as ozoni or oshiruko.

Will you be trying these traditions in your family? Let us know in the comments. Have a happy and safe New Year! Cheers to more happy things in 2022.

Safe Travels Hawaii

Hawaii is starting to open up and restrictions and mandates have been lessened to allow more visitors to visit our beautiful state.  There are quite a few pro tips and procedures we would like to share with you for a flawless entry into the Aloha State.

First you need to create an account on Safe Travels Hawaii – https://travel.hawaii.gov/

From the menu, you will need to create your profile.  In the “Trips” section, you will need to enter your flight information for your arrival into the state of Hawaii. To apply for a quarantine exemption, you will need to enter your vaccination information. If you are not vaccinated, you will have to show a negative covid test from an approved site to get an exemption for quarantine.  If you do not get an exemption (proof of full vaccination or negative test within 48 hours) you will have to quarantine for 10 days. 

24 hours before you arrive in Hawaii, you will be required to answer a health questionnaire, which can also be found on the Safe Travels website.  This is a requirement to enter the state regardless of quarantine exemption. After you do the health questionnaire, you will be emailed a QR code.  Save that QR code as you will need it before you board your flight.  

You can use the Safe Travels website for daily check-ins if you are required to quarantine.  To create your Hawaii Smart Health Card, you can use the same Safe Travels website to enter your proof of vaccination.  This is the system that the state is using to verify proof of vaccination for dining in restaurants, gym access, and other entertainment venues that require vaccinations.

When you get to your airport gate, you will need to show your QR code to the gate agents.

After you show the QR code to agate agent, they will give you a wristband.  This wristband indicates that you are clear to enter the state without any further action. 

When you land, there will be two lines – one for those with a wristband and another for no wristbands. Wristband lines are able to exit the airport freely, while the non wrist band line will require further information to be cleared to exit the airport.

Now you’re free to enjoy Hawaii!  Tell us what’s the first stop on your trip.

Waimanalo Farms Sunflower Summer Event

Summer brings… sun and sunflowers!  We took a field trip out to Waimanalo Country Farms and had a blast!  Definitely fun for the entire family.  Admission is $10.84 per person and reservations can be booked online. It includes a complimentary drink (lemonade or sweet tea). 

Sunflower fields were in full bloom and so pretty!

There were so many photo opportunities and set ups for great instagram photos or tiktoks!

After you visit the sunflower fields, drive up the hill and get a grilled sunflower head!  It is the sunflower head grilled with butter, oil and garlic!  You have to try it, it’s so delicious.  You eat the sunflower seeds off the head.  The seeds are soft and so yummy with the garlic. 

They also have shave ice which was also so refreshing on a hot summer day!

At the end of your visit, grab a freshly squeezed lemonade or sweet tea.  We upgraded our drink to get the reusable mason jar!  It’s so cute!  We got a strawberry li-hing lemonade – so refreshing and delicious! 

Waimanalo Country Farms Sunflower Event runs until July 21.  They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9am to 4pm.  You can visit https://www.waimanalocountryfarms.com for more information!  Check it out!

La Tour Cafe

One of our favorite little cafés is La Tour Café.  They have amazing food and French desserts as well as our new favorite… Macarons!

Due to Covid, no indoor seating is available, but this cute little café is definitely worth trying.

Is it Macaron or Macaroon?  Not to be confused, these are two different types of desserts.  A macaron (pronounced mack-a-ROHN) is a little confection made up of two round flat almond flour based cookies sandwiching a filling like a ganache or jam.  A macaroon (pronounced mack-a-ROON) is a mounded cookie made with shredded coconut.  La Tour specializes in Macarons, and are best known for their vast variety in flavors.  

Because we went towards the end of the day, they were out of some our favorite flavors (Fruity Pebbles), but they still had a lot of selection to choose from.  

We ended up getting a dozen macarons and our favorite Plantation Iced Tea (Pineapple Iced Tea).  The tea was super refreshing and had a great balance of sweetness from the pineapple juice and tea.  We definitely recommend you try it!

But on to the fun part…. The Macarons!

It came in a super cute gift box and the pretty colors really stand out!  Flavors we got were: Red Velvet, Pineapple, Mango, Lilikoi, Mint Chocolate, Blueberry cheesecake, Ube and the flavor of the month, Raspberry Lychee.

The Raspberry Lychee was our favorite!  The chewy cookie on the outside was so yummy as well as the filling.  Definitely a great treat at the end of the day.  Have you tried these before?  Let us know which flavors are your favorite.  

Beginner Pancake Art

A few weeks ago we featured some pancake art on Pancake Day! We wanted to share our process (and practice some new shapes). You will need some supplies that you can find at your local baking supply shop or on Amazon.

  • Pancake mix of your choice (preferably a simple one where all you need is water like our very own Happy Haleiwa Pancake Mix)
  • Squeeze bottles with a very fine tip
  • Squeeze bottle with a larger tip (for filling in large spaces)
  • Medium sized bowl
  • A few smaller bowls
  • Gel food coloring
  • Griddle or a nonstick pan
  • Cooking spray of your choice (we used Avocado oil)
  • Water
  • Funnel
  • Toothpick or Chopsticks

We measured enough pancake batter for 2 servings.

Add enough water per instructions of your chosen pancake mix.

Whisk the pancake mix and water in a medium sized bowl.

Separate the batter using the smaller bowls. Make sure to keep in mind how much “filling batter” and “outline batter” you’ll need when portioning out the batter. You will need more of the filling batter vs. the outline batter. In our design, we will be making Happy-chan’s face. Here is our game plan:

  • Undyed batter (Filling batter) – skin
  • Red batter (Filling batter) – hair
  • Pink batter (Filling batter) – bows
  • Dark Brown batter (Outline batter) – outline

When mixing the colors in with the batter, take a teeny bit of the gel food coloring with a toothpick or a chopstick and mix it into the batter.

Add the food coloring a little at a time until you get your desired color.

Now we’re ready to fill the bottles! Use a funnel to help make the job easier.

Now we’re ready to make some pancake art! Get your griddle ready. Set the temperature between 350 – 375°F.

When creating shapes, go slow and fill as you go. As soon as the batter starts to create bubbles, it’s ready to flip them over!

Stay tuned for a video of how we created Happy-chan’s face.

5 Awesome Oahu Boba Shops

One of our favorite treats is a yummy cup of boba tea. Boba tea originated in Taiwan and usually consists of a milk tea with large tapioca balls that are popular in Asian desserts. There are so many great boba spots on Oahu and we wish we could fit it all into one blog post. Maybe a part 2 is in our future?

The Alley

The Alley is a newer Boba Shop to hit Hawaii.  They have locations in California and Las Vegas.  It’s such a cute shop with a modern feel. 

They were also really organized with a screen outside and an automatic number caller to announce the order numbers that were ready for pickup. They encourage ordering online so you don’t have to wait in long lines to get your drinks.

The most popular drink on their menu is the Brown Sugar Deerioca Crème Brulee Milk.  So we had to try it!  It was really delicious and really different as it had crème brulee custard chunks inside.  The boba was fresh but slightly chewy.  

Rating: 8/10

The Alley Ala Moana (near Jamba Juice in the Nordstrom Wing)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd Suite 2805 
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 278-9216

Hula Boba

While cruising on the west side, we found this little gem!  Hula Boba is located in Kapolei.  It’s a super cute shop that also carries Asian snacks and goodies too!  We picked up a box of raspberry mochi to try.  

Hula Boba offers a “buffet” of toppings.  At most boba places, you pay per topping, but not at Hula Boba.  Their cups have lines for toppings.  You can put as many toppings as you want for free and if it falls under the first line.  If toppings surpass the line you pay a little extra.  Pre-covid this was self service, but due to covid, just let the employee know what you want, and they will put the toppings in for you.  They also had the best selection of toppings we’ve ever seen, with fresh honeydew and cantaloupe to choose from.  There were so much toppings that we couldn’t fit the entire selection in one photo!

We couldn’t help ourselves and ordered two drinks.  The first was a Tiger Milk Tea with Boba (Thai Iced Tea) and a Mango Black Tea with Lychee and Mango jelly!  Both were really refreshing and such a gem to find in Kapolei!

Rating: 7.5/10

Hula Boba
885 Kamokila Blvd Ste 102
Kapolei, HI 96707
(808) 693-8818

Bee & Tea

We stumbled upon another amazing Boba Shop in Kailua.  Bee & Tea is such a cute shop with tons of local charm.  The first thing that caught our eye, was the Kailua mural painted on the wall.  Such a great photo op!

The next thing that amazed us, was the creative and diverse drink menu!  They have milk teas, iced teas, lemonades, lemonade teas, boba smoothies, fresh fruit smoothies, acai bowls, and the best cookies you’ll ever eat!  The cookie was so good we forgot to take a picture of it!

We wanted to try some different items so we ordered two drinks again.  The first was something we have never seen before – a pumpkin spice milk tea!  If you like pumpkin / holiday flavors, this will definitely hit the spot!  It was so good, words can’t even explain.  *Note: We paid $2.50 extra to get the drink in a reusable light bulb cup.  We also tried a Mango Tango, which is a Jasmine Green Tea with Mango and Lychee and mango jelly.  It was really light and there was a hint of Jasmine.  We really enjoyed this a lot!

Rating: 8/10

Bee & Tea Kailua
131 Hekili St
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 754-6890

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee or Tea is one of the oldest boba establishments on Oahu. They have been open in Hawaii since 1999 and many of their ingredients come directly from Taiwan. In addition to milk teas, they also offer smoothies, coffee, and many other desserts.

The inside is quite traditional and simple. Currently due to Covid, you are not able to sit inside. We ordered the regular brown sugar boba milk tea. What we love about Coffee or Tea is you can really taste that milk tea flavor and the sweetness is perfect. Their boba texture has the perfect balance of chewiness and softness.

Rating: 8/10

Coffee or Tea?
94-1144 Ka Uka Blvd.
Waipahu, HI 96797
(808) 676-6688

Teaspresso Bar

Teaspresso Bar loves to pride itself on having organic, fresh and local ingredients in their variety of beverages. They offer coffee, tea, smoothies, lemonade and so much more. They have so many locations in Hawaii as well as in Texas and Washington state.

The interior of Teaspresso Bar varies from location. The Wahiawa location offers a lovely mural / art installation of a cherry blossom tea with a swing. Perfect place for a photo op. We have had their regular boba teas before and wanted to try something different – their ube latte. It was so tasty and you could really taste that ube flavor.

And look – the swing is a perfect spot to get a picture of your boba tea. It’s so cute! Did we mention that Teaspresso won first place in Hawaii’s Best list of boba shops! Wow!

Rating: 9/10

Teaspresso Bar Wahiawa
834 Kilani Ave #104
Wahiawa, HI 96786
(808) 621-2233

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is a day where we celebrate love.  Pinks, Reds, Hearts are the first things we think of when it comes to Valentine’s Day. With that in mind, we gathered a small collection of items that you can give your loved ones (kids, friends, and yourself included)! 

Our Happy Apron is the perfect gift for that chef in your life!  It has front pockets and adjustable straps to fit all sizes.  Red is our favorite color, but the happy apron also comes in Blue, Black, Navy and Green.  

These super cute waterproof bags are perfect for keeping all your belongings dry!  Not only is it great for the beach, but you could also use it to protect your valuables from the rain. We also included a shoulder strap for easy carrying.  FUN FACT: they float in the water!!! You don’t have to leave your precious cargo on the beach unattended anymore.  Pink and Red are perfect for Valentines Day, but our waterproof bags also come in other colors – Blue and Navy.

Enjoy Life is our most popular “heart” design!  It features Hauoli Chan on a surfboard and reminds us to always “Enjoy Life One Wave at a Time”.  If pink is not your color, we also have this design in White.  This T-shirt has a classic regular T-shirt fit and is made in Hawaii.

Think Happy is our favorite Pink T-shirt!  This “Made in Hawaii” T-shirt is a boyfriend style shirt (slim fit) and also comes in Natural.  It features Happy Chan roller skating – a favorite classic date night activity!  What’s your date night plans for Valentines Day? 

Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, flowers and yummy desserts.  When we think of dessert, we think of Shave Ice!  Shave Ice is probably Hawaii’s most popular dessert, so we had to add in our Aloha Shave Ice T-shirt!  This super soft Made in Hawaii tee will definitely warm your heart!  This design also comes in White.

Our newest addition is the Shave Ice Strawberry / Pineapple Water Bottle!  This 18 oz. water bottle keeps drinks cold (24 hours) and hot (12 hours) with its double vacuum sealed insulation.  The cap has a strap for easy carrying.  It also comes in Vanilla / Blue Hawaii (blue to teal ombre).  It’s a perfect gift for any of your loved ones!

Our most popular flip flops (or slippers) is the Ipanema Wave Heart!  It is delicately feminine and fits the foot’s natural contours for a subtle dressy look!  It features a bold metallic heart perfect for any occasion, not just Valentine’s Day!  We carry this design in multiple colors (Pink, Navy and Brown) as well as Kids sizes (Blue, Yellow and Navy).

If you are looking for little trinkets for your loved ones, we got you covered!  From keychains to stickers to coin cases and Happy Chan dolls we have a handful of smaller items for everyone that you love.

Lastly, we have our Bottom Circle Sea Shore Bag featuring love and hearts!  Perfect bag for carrying beach towels to your everyday essentials. We are currently offering this Bottom circle bag FREE with your $100 or more purchase.  While supplies last and no promo code needed.  

Right now, the world needs love… so spread your love today!

Easy DIY: Vision Board

Today is Vision Board Day! Have you ever made a vision board? A vision board or dream board is a collection or collage of images and words to help you envision your goals and dreams. It is used as a tool of motivation and can be created very easily. It’s a great time to create a vision board as it is the beginning of a new year. New year, new you! You don’t need any fancy supplies. We like to use old magazines, stickers, some scissors, glue and a board, piece of cardstock or even a notebook.

First, think about your goals. Our goals this year is to declutter our home and to start a daily yoga practice. With that goal in mind, go through magazines that relate to your goal. It could be a word, phrase that catches your eye or an image. Start cutting them out and paste them onto your board, notebook, or cardstock.

We found a lot of great images that reflect the feeling we’re trying to bring to our home – a nice simple, decluttered space. We found some great words to go with our goals as well. The collage doesn’t have to be perfect. Have fun with it. It’s very therapeutic and freeing!

We even managed to find messages in our stickers that fit with the 2021 vibes we were going for.

We finished the vision board by writing out the year. It will be nice to reflect on our goals at the end of the year.

Here’s our finished vision board. Make sure you place it where you can see it everyday, whether it be on your wall near your desk, in the kitchen, or in a notebook / planner that you look at daily. We hope you have fun making your own vision boards!